This picture is the result of multiple techniques, used together to get to the desired result.  I thought I would share these with you should you want to achieve a similar result:2010-05-03-0001

Here is the cityscape photography techniques used in this picture:

[checklist]
  • I took this picture in the first few seconds of sunrise.  The sun was barely visible;
  • I took this picture through the window of the Excalibur hotel room at the 20th floor;
  • I shut the light off in the room and used a sunshade to avoid any unwanted reflection in the window;
  • I held firmly the camera sunshade against the window; it was acting as a support;
  • ISO 100, 1/5 seconds and f/2.8 at 16 mm on a crop sensor;
  • I manually focus at infinity to avoid recording any dust on the windows.
[/checklist]

All these steps were necessary to get this picture.  60 second later, the light on the Mandalay Bay hotel was so strong that this picture was not possible anymore.

Shapes and forms are very strong objects in photography.  They draw the eyes.  The shapes and forms really help this picture.  These illustrate order and stability.  Order and stability are source of comfort.

When taking pictures of buildings, it is usual for these buildings to get narrower as they are heading into the sky.  Rarely can we see  them as if we were at their height, relatively speaking.

One technique to achieve this representation is to use telephoto from a distance.  This compresses the perspective and it looks like stacking.  In this case though, using a 24mm effective focal length, distortion should prevail.  Since I was at good height and I shot this picture with the camera perfectly leveled, perspective is less apparent.  In post-production I used lightroom lens correction to fix some remaining distortion.

Looking at the back of the Luxor square block on the left hand side, perspective is more visible.

Photography is all about compromise.  In this case, the compromise was to press the shutter exactly at the perfect moment to preserve the golden light on the Mandalay bay and seeing through the shadows in the back of the Luxor.  This is not HDR.  This is just minor tweaks in Lightroom.  Enjoy!